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Thaksin's wife in tax fraud probe
Former Thai prime minister's family members accused of tax evasion.
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2006 10:33 GMT

Thaksin's wife Pojaman is being investigated
for tax evasion


 

Thailand's anti-corruption agency is considering criminal charges against the wife and brother-in-law of Thaksin Shinawatra, the deposed prime minister, for allegedly failing to pay nearly $15 million in taxes.
 
It says Thaksin's wife, Pojaman, called the transfer of 4.5 million shares to her brother "a gift", to avoid paying tax on it.
The military appointed investigators ordered Bhanapot Damapong, Thaksin's brother-in-law, to pay nearly $15 million in taxes.
 
A ruling is expected next week, in what could be the first graft conviction against Thaksin and his family since he was ousted in a military coup on September 19.
Bhanapot was chairman of Thaksin's media empire, Shin Corp, at the time of the deal in 1997.
 
Thaksin transferred shares in Shin Corp to relatives and associates, including one of his maids, Duangta Wongpaki, before taking public office.
 
Investigators say Thaksin's wife, Pojaman, subsequently bought the shares from Duangta and transferred them to her brother, calling the "a gift" to avoid tax. 
 
The anti-graft agency says Pojaman and Bhanapot engaged in illegal activity to avoid paying taxes and ruled the deal a handout.
 
In a separate case, Thailand's revenue department ruled that Thaksin's son and daughter would have to pay taxes on the family's sale of Shin Corp earlier this year to Temasek Holdings, the Singapore government's investment arm.
 
Drugs war probe
 
Last week, the Thai government ordered investigations into alleged abuses during Thaksin's "war on drugs" campaign.
 
About 2,500 people were killed during the campaign which started in 2003. Thaksin's government said the deaths were largely the result of drug dealers killing each other.
 
But rights groups say they were mostly due to extra-judicial killings by police.
 
Thailand was inundated with methamphetamine from neighbouring Myanmar at the time the campaign kicked off. It initially succeeded in cutting off supply, but anti-drug agencies say business soon returned to normal levels.
 
Thailand's military leadership has come under criticism in recent weeks for not being aggressive or decisive enough in fighting and investigating graft.
 
It has also come under fire for giving top government posts to soldiers.
 
The interim government used Thaksin's "high crimes" as justification for the coup and has promised to make curbing corruption a top priority.
Source:
Agencies
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